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Russia Triumphant over Host Canada

Published: May 20, 2008 (Issue # 1374)


Getting a Canadian to swallow his or her pride after a monumental world hockey championship loss on home soil and to look at the bigger picture is a tough task indeed. Let this Canadian living in St. Petersburg then not wallow in misery after a game fairly played to write on the broader theme of sports and society. Forgive me if I wax a bit poetic in the shadow of defeat.

Canada and Russia have over the years shared a great hockey legacy with both a fierce rivalry and sense of sportsmanship that highlights the positive role sport can play in international relations. When Russians think of Canada one of the first things they speak of is hockey. There is a shared understanding through hockey among our two northern nations with legends and heroes that youngsters have looked up to as role models. An IIHF Centennial All-Star Team was named this year with one Canadian, Wayne Gretzky (the great one), and four Russians, Sergei Makarov, Valery Kharlamov, Vladislav Tretyak and Vyacheslav Fetisov.

Though sporting events sometimes reach such a fevered pitch that hooligans react with violence outside of the stadiums and arenas, one message is that competition does not have to be played in a spirit of conflict, but with a sense of mutual respect for the game and for the opponent. It is the triumphalism of world power that obscures victory in athletic competitions after the winners and losers are awarded their just due. Let us hope the new-found nationalism in Russia after celebrations on the streets of Russia following Zenit St. Petersburgs and now the national hockey teams victory, does not extend to the realm of seeking a return to super-power world-status in an unhealthy way. In sports as in society, sooner or later ones ego is always subdued.

Watching the tournament, the semifinals and the final, I can say that the best team won. Russia is back at the pinnacle of world hockey once again. The final was a great game, really a wonderful finish for the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Canadas Prime Minster, Stephen Harper was of course on hand in Quebec, anxiously watching the events unfold. Yet there were Russian flags and Ru-ssi-a chants echoing through the stadium as well. There was no animosity or fighting among the spectators, just a closely fought match with a rollercoaster of goals and lead changes.

Hockey, it is said, is almost a religion for some people in Canada. This is a hockey mad-country, said Alexander Ovechkin, one of the most talented players in the game today; an intimidating force on ice. His 65 goals in the NHL were the first time a player scored more than 60 goals since 1995-1996.

However, the one who tamed the hockey-mad Canadians was Ilya Kovalchuk. God was on our side a little more than them, claimed Kovalchuk.

Scoring his first goal of the tournament to send the game into overtime and then the overtime winner, Kovalchuk may be the keenest interpreter of the divine inspiration of the current epoch for loyal Russian hockey fans.

It may be fitting for the Canadians to be humbled in front of their home crowd. But not only was this a symbolic event for world hockey, it also sets off events marking the 400th birthday of the city of Quebec, which hosted the final. What better way than at the hockey rink for Canada to be a generous host?

They say pride comes before the fall. Lets hope this is springtime for Russian sports that will lead to a blossoming of talent in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games and then onwards to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

We all know that the Olympics are the measuring stick... If youre talking about supremacy in hockey, you talk about the Olympics, noted Canadian Coach Ken Hitchcock. The U.S.S.R won an Olympic gold medal in hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games in Canada. Lets see what happens in Vancouver 2010 and then Sochi 2014! Bring it on!

Gregory Sandstrom is a PhD student in Sociology at St. Petersburg State University, sports fan of all sorts and Olympic Games guest correspondent.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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